Algarve desperately needs new central hospital, say doctors

A doctors’ union is calling for the urgent construction of the Algarve’s “central hospital” which they say has been in the pipeline for over 10 years but has never moved forward.

In a statement, the Sindicato Independente dos Médicos (SIM) says a new hospital would solve the “chronic overcrowding” at Faro Hospital, with its A&E unit frequently in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons.

The central hospital project was brought up again this week after SIM alleged that Faro Hospital’s board pressured medical teams into releasing patients too quickly to open up room at the hospital, which led three clinical directors to hand in their resignations.

The syndicate described it as a “lamentable and unacceptable situation” which shows “disrespect towards health professionals who daily try to overcome the hospital’s shortcomings which are the responsibility of those who manage it”.

The hospital board (CHUA) denied the accusations, defending that it did not imply in any way that doctors should adopt “any measure that could compromise good clinical practices”.

Meantime, the head of the Order of Doctors in the south has visited Faro Hospital and assured that clinical teams have the “independence” they need to decide when to release patients.

Alexandre Lourenço added that everything will be done to “preserve their independence and decision-making” and that the clinical directors handed in their resignations at a “time of pressure” when the number of patients at the hospital was very high and when there were serious issues in the communication between them and the board.

He also said that the resignation requests were under discussion, and that a decision would be made soon.

Lourenço did admit, however, that the region’s hospitals and public health facilities are not enough and do not meet the needs of the Algarve but was evasive when asked about whether a new central hospital would solve these issues.

He said that “other measures can be taken” and highlighted that the number of patients aged over 80 is growing and if solutions aren’t found, emergency situations at hospital will become even more commonplace.

The project for a new “central hospital” was announced in 2006 by the socialist government of José Sócrates. The hospital was due to be built at Parque das Cidades between Loulé and Faro, and was placed second on a national priority list of new hospitals.

But over the last decade, the project failed to move forward and in 2016 the Secretary of State for Health said the hospital was no longer a priority.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]